Transmigration of Bodies
Yuri Herrera, Lisa Dillman
A plague has brought death to the city. Two feuding crime families with blood on their hands need our hard-boiled hero, The Redeemer, to broker peace. Both his instincts and the vacant streets warn him to stay indoors, but The Redeemer ventures out into the city’s underbelly to arrange for the exchange of the bodies they hold hostage.Yuri Herrera’s novel is a response to the violence of contemporary Mexico. With echoes of Romeo and Juliet, Roberto Bolano and Raymond Chandler, The Transmigration of Bodies is a noirish tragedy and a tribute to those bodies – loved, sanctified, lusted after, and defiled – that violent crime has touched.
'The Transmigration of Bodies represents a highpoint in the genre of the novel. Herrera has been slowly building an oeuvre constructed on a singular conception of the world, in which literature's past and present form a continuum. Reading him gives one the sense of diving into his library, a place that is unashamed of belonging to a tradition and being well-read and much-underlined.' Alvaro Enrigue, author of Sudden Death ---------- 'The Transmigration of Bodies is a magnificent book and its author one of the few indispensable Latin American writers of our times.' Patricio Pron, author of My Fathers' Ghost Is Climbing in the Rain ---------- 'Bracingly unbookish ... The after-effect is more like that of a video game or Marvel comic, with both the brightness and unabashed flatness those entail. Darkly satisfying ... Swift, slick images and one-liners glitter at regular intervals.' James Lasdun, The Guardian ---------- 'Herrera packs his slim book with the sex, booze and nihilism of a better Simenon novella ... Dillman brings out a gritty, pulpy flavor in the writing.' Sam Sacks, Wall Street Journal ---------- 'A novella in nine dramatic acts loaded with images, moments suspended in time that evolve into an extended dream, or rather a cautionary tale ... The author of playful, prophetic, unnerving books that deserve to be read several times, with dialogue so telling it eats into your brain rather like the worm in the Redeemer's preferred mescal, Herrera is a writer for our doomed epoch.' Eileen Battersby, Irish Times ---------- 'Herrera's brilliantly surreal turns of phrase mirror the strangeness of the world: he knows that brutal everyday truths are best revealed through dreams. Blood-soaked, driven deep and expertly written.' Jeff Noon, The Spectator ---------- 'Yuri Herrera [is] my favorite of the new Mexican writers. The Transmigration of Bodies goes straight for the soul. Unsettling and deep, Herrera transmigrates us to a Mexico that feels like a metaphysical condition, a timeless kingdom in which the living are forever dancing with the dead.' John Powers, NPR Fresh Air ---------- 'The Transmigration of Bodies takes the conventions of gumshoe fiction and transfers them to a charnel-house world that makes nonsense of the genre's habitual moral opposites ... There's plenty to admire about this allegorical vision of a country under lockdown, where violence and death have ceased to be the motors for fiction, instead becoming the backdrop of everyday life.' Bookforum ---------- 'Herrera's characteristic concision goes a step further here, his skill for expression more impressive in its restraint than its excess. This is a harsh novel, as are those from a borderland besieged by extreme violence, but it's also oddly comforting, in large part due to its exceptional literary quality.' El Pais -------- 'In Herrera's slim, amusing book, [he] strips Romeo & Juliet to its essence and sets it against a plague that symbolises Mexico's recent violent history.' Publishers Weekly ---------- 'Yuri Herrera's novels are like little lights in a vast darkness. I want to see whatever he shows me.' Stephen Sparks, Green Apple Books, San Francisco, CA ---------- 'This is as noir should be, written with all the grit and grime of hard-boiled crime and all the literary merit we're beginning to expect from Herrera. Before the end he'll have you asking how, in the shadow of anonymity, do you differentiate between the guilty and the innocent?' Tom Harris, Mr B's Emporium, Bath ---------- 'Both hysterical and bleak, The Transmigration of Bodies builds an entire world in 100 pages. Herrera's ability to express everything in so few words, his skill of merging the argot of the streets with the poetry of life is unrivalled. The world his characters inhabit is dangerous and urban, like a postcard sent from the ends of the earth. Reading his compact novels is both exhilarating and unforgettable.' Mark Haber, Brazos Bookstore, Houston, TX ---------- 'A fabulous book full of low-life characters struggling to get by. It's an everyday story of love, lust, disease and death. Indispensable.' Matthew Geden, Waterstones Cork, Ireland ---------- 'Reading The Transmigration of Bodies was akin to being enveloped in a dream state, yet one that upon waking somehow makes profound sense. Another truly magnificent novel from one of the most exciting authors to emerge on the world stage for aeons.' Ray Mattinson, Blackwell's, Oxford ---------- 'A microcosmic look at the lives of two families straight out of a Shakespearean drama. Pick it up and you won't put it down till you've finished.' Grace Waltemyer, Posman Books in Chelsea Market, NY ---------- 'A work replete with the gritty, informal prose first displayed in Signs - rooted firmly in the modern world yet evoking the feel of an epic divorced from time ... a cross between Cormac McCarthy and a detective novel, an incisive portrait evoking a Mexican Inherent Vice.' Marina Clementi, Seminary Co-op Bookstore, Chicago, IL ---------- 'The Transmigration of Bodies reads like a fever dream: an intense, enthralling examination of how people live in a city of the dying and the dead. It takes an extraordinary amount of skill to combine elements of noir, political commentary, hardboiled crime, and allegory (not to mention Shakespeare, with a seasoning of existential ennui) and keep the novel moving, or in this case, racing along. Herrera, clearly, has at least that much talent, and then some.' Thomas Flynn, Volumes Bookcafe, Chicago, IL
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